So on Saturday I popped in to Henry Burton’s to ask about shoes, and ended up leaving with brake levers… There was a bike on display that I think I’ve been shown before when it was upstairs, and it’s a lovely touring bike with mudguards, rear rack, and classic components including downtube shifters. I pointed out the brakes and said my own levers (Weinmann, with Dia-Compe add-ons) tended to rattle about a bit, and he uttered the magic words “just let me have a little look”, and after a couple of minutes he came back with an odd pair of Weinmann levers that had just the part I was looking for. £8 he sold them to me for, which is probably a touch on the generous side. So here they are installed:
The ‘GT levers’, as he called them, are L-shaped and riveted on to the pin that holds the front levers and the bolt to the bracket that attaches to the bar. The main levers themselves are the originals from the bike, sans the black hoods which don’t fit around the additional levers, and they’re very nice and clean looking virtually brand new.
These GT levers mate directly to holes in the sides of the main levers rather than simply resting on top, which means they are more securely attached and don’t rattle when the main levers are pulled in, and the fact they’re riveted to the pin means they don’t swivel about side to side like the old ones did. They also allow me to use the little quick release feature that allows the brakes to open a little further when changing wheels, similar to a Campagnolo system I’ve seen on another bike.
So why do I like GT levers? Well it’s just a question of convenience on busy lanes and paths. With pedestrians and dog walkers about one often has to stop or slow down so it’s handy to always have the brakes within reach, and being able to hold the top of the bars also gives extra stability when both braking and shifting gear, which I’m often doing when I leave my drive. They don’t look very ‘pro’, but who cares?
I hesitate to say Major Tom has reached his ‘definitive state’ as I’m sure I’ll change something at some point, but I’m rapidly running out of things that I would want to change. I suppose the seatpost is too modern, and if I could find a suitable Sakai Ringyo seatpost I might be tempted. The bar tape (a black cork type that’s reasonably inexpensive) is comfy enough by I don’t think it visually suits the bike – I might splash out on some Brooks tape or similar, it’s due for a change shortly anyway and I did make a bit of a hash of it when I fitted this set of tape. The cloth tape it came with originally (which I initially replaced like-for-like) is a little too thin and unsubstantial for my tastes.
Other than that I might refit the original rear derailleur (a SunTour Vx) but that’s it, all the other components work just fine. The front derailleur I wouldn’t want to swap (except perhaps to replace with an identical unit), as it’s ‘high normal’ and so can be stored with the chain in the big ring with the cable at its lowest tension. I don’t quite understand why other front derailleurs work the opposite way, why set your levers to work in opposite directions? Yet another thing that dearly departed SunTour got right if you ask me…